Death and Life in the Springtime

There are two ways of dealing with pests that are eating your crops. The first is human. It involves death. Before humans singled it out, there was only life. Death is the signature of these creatures. Doubt it? Look:


Farmer in Full Protective Gear Spraying Poisons on Your Food

That was 2 hours ago. By now, the orchard is a zone of death. Things are dying all over the place there, right now. Far fewer things than would have twenty years ago, when the only thing to spray was nerve gasses left over from the Battle of Britain, but death nonetheless. Compare that to the advertisement from B.C. Tree Fruits Ltd., the traditional marketing desk for local fruit:

British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley boasts rich, fertile soil, endless days of summer sun and 135 kilometers of pristine lake fed by pure mountain streams. It almost doesn’t seem fair that one place should have so much. But thank goodness. Because this magical combination of conditions is positively perfect for growing tree fruits. Not just any tree fruits. But some of the most delicious in the world. From the newest varieties to old favourites, a BC Tree Fruits sticker means flavourful food grown close to home using natural and sustainable methods. Honestly, this is about as fresh as it gets.


Get that? “Sustainable methods” means, I think, that farmer spraying death. Presumably, it’s just the right amount of death. Well, without that effort codling moth larvae would get most of the crop. I get that. Humans are always making life and death choices — because they are the creatures that determine life and death, and even perhaps the only ones who see it, God help them, but compare that to this:

weevil Knapweed Root Weevil

Hatched in the spring and ready for another year of weed control…by living.

And not just one root weevil. Things are going well.


A Whole Hatch of Knapweed Root Weevils …

… listening to the whine of the sprayer down the hill.

So, that’s the choice: control an invasive plant (knapweed) by importing its natural partner, and it will be controlled the natural way, through creating life, or control an invasive insect (codling moth) on an invasive plant (apples) through death. With the second method, no extra life is produced, but it is concentrated in just one spot: in human life. Well, hopefully, anyway. At any rate, the apples that would have fed tens of thousands of codling moths, and in turn thousands of birds, will feed thousands of people, perhaps. Efficient, deadly, practical, and the reason why the planet is dying. Oh, as for that pristine lake?


Sandpiper Wandering Through a Maze of Lakeshore Crap

The organic matter is chopped up invasive Eurasian Water Milfoil, that is killing the lake’s ecosystem, but is mown off to provide swimming opportunities for tourists.

And the pure mountain stream?



Beer Can Making Its Way to the Lake (2 minutes to go)

A coot had to scurry out of the way.

I get it. To market stuff to humans that they don’t need (British Columbia apples, for instance), you have to appeal to their stories and dreams. You tell wonderful stories, and they buy those stories, and maybe your apples with them. That’s how the world works. The problem is that when the stories get too far from reality, it is also how humans get divorced from the world in which they live. And that is also how the world dies. Advertising is an important part of contemporary industrial culture, and has great power for damage — as well as for positive change. We have reached the point at which we need to tell better stories. Luckily they are right here.


3 replies »

  1. I can understand your rant very well. I can’t stand if people tell bullshit to make bad things sound good and sadly that’s what most adverts are about.


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